Questions to Ask Your Doctor

While clinical trials are not the best option for everyone, it is important to know all the choices available to you in deciding on appropriate care and treatment, and to discuss them with your doctor.

If you’re considering a clinical trial, be sure to learn as much as you can about clinical trials in general, and about the trial you might want to enroll in, before you participate.

What are the benefits of clinical trials?

Participating in an ovarian cancer clinical trial might help someone with ovarian cancer in the future. You may get a new treatment that works better than a current treatment, and it can feel empowering to take control of your health care. You are also likely to receive specialized care for the health care team monitoring you from the trial.

What are the risks of clinical trials?

As with any new treatment, you may experience side effects. The new treatment may not work for you, though it may work for others. The inconvenience of extra visits to the doctor can sometimes be burdensome. Clinical trial participants do not have a choice in getting the experimental vs. the traditional treatment, and insurance may not cover all the costs.

What medical information about ovarian cancer do I need before enrolling in a clinical trial?

Before you enroll in a clinical trial you will be asked to fill out a questionnaire about your health. The questions will ask for a range of information including: your age, menopausal status, your daily activity, the extent of cancer metastasis, the ovarian cancer stage and type, the operability of a metastatic cancer, your CA-125 levels, where you are in treatment, when you had the most recent surgery, when you had the most recent chemotherapy, what drugs you received for chemotherapy, other medical conditions besides cancer, how many different chemotherapy regimens have you undergone, and where you live to find a trial. Collecting information about your health, although time consuming and potentially emotional draining, is necessary for the clinical trials process.

Many patients and organizations, including the National Cancer Institute, suggest asking yourself and your doctor the following questions when considering a clinical trial. In addition to being helpful around trial participation, these questions can be useful for organizing all kinds of information in discussions with your doctor.

Questions to ask yourself when considering a clinical trial

  • Why do I want to participate?
  • What do I expect to get from the trial?
  • What may happen to me if I do or don’t participate?
  • Do I understand the risks and benefits?
  • Do I have the time and resources to participate?

Questions for your doctor about clinical trials

  • Is the trial still enrolling people?
  • Am I eligible for the trial?
  • Why do researchers think this new treatment may be effective?
  • What are the potential risks and benefits the treatment may have?
  • Who will watch over my care and safety?
  • Can I get a copy of the trial’s protocol?
  • Can I get a copy of the informed consent form?
  • Is there a chance I will receive a placebo?
  • Is the trial randomized?
  • What is the dose and schedule of treatments of the trial?
  • What costs will I or my insurer have to pay?
  • If I have to travel, who will pay for travel and lodging?
  • Will the trial require more time than standard care, and a possible hospital stay?
  • How will participating in the trial affect my daily life?